MLB Prop Betting
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 04/23/2009
Watching a baseball game you have money on can be incredibly trying. Nine inning games that can stretch on for hours can be a marathon of nerves. There is another option, though, if you are looking to wager on baseball and want a faster result. First inning and first run prop bets provide near instant gratification (or dismay) and they can also provide great value if you play them right.
It takes plenty of research and analysis to try to break down pitchers' or team's tendencies throughout a 162-game schedule while trying to bet one nine-inning game. And all that work is often a waste of time as bullpens, weather and other factors affect a game over its nine-inning course. While first inning and first run prop betting seems like action designed for bettors with attention disorder, when handled correctly these MLB prop bets can produce over the long run. It's much easier to break down a pitcher's history just by looking at how he starts a game and the same goes with the top of a batting lineup for a particular team.
There are two bets in discussion today. They are pretty self explanatory and many sportsbooks offer them.
Team to score first in the game
Just as it says, you are betting on which team will score first in the game so the road team obviously has an inherent advantage as they get the first crack at it, although that does not necessarily mean they are always favored. The key thing to remember when placing this bet is that not only does the road team get to bat first to start the game but they will also get the first shot in the second inning, third inning and so on, as long as their pitcher can keep the home team off the scoreboard.
Through the first two weeks of the season the away team has a noticeable advantage over the home team. The advantage of batting first is sometimes offset by the fact that the home team is usually favored. Still, the 72-54 advantage the away team has had this year in scoring first is still a considerable amount and even if the away team does not strike first, in pitcher's duels the away team seems to be the team that has been able to get the run across first whether it be in the top of the second or in the top of the ninth.
Psychology determines hitters can sometimes get complacent when the game is 0-0 and even on the field players may be less aggressive on the base paths and managers might be hesitant to give his runners the green light. Obviously that changes if the away team is to jump out to a lead, but by then the bet is already decided.
Another interesting trend that has emerged that goes along with the away team's ability to score first is that underdogs have scored first more often than the favored team has. Again, the underdog has the advantage in this scenario as they are often the road team but the lines are usually reasonable.
For a home underdog to score first the line can range anywhere from +125 to +170. You can expect to lay high odds on the road favorite, usually around -150 to -200. On a prop bet that can be won on something as fluky as a stray fly ball that carries into a solo homerun, it usually is not wise to be risking 200 to win 100. On the other hand, if you are getting +170 odds for a team to score first, it makes a lot more sense to back a team such as the struggling Washington Nationals to score first rather than bet on them to try and compete for an entire nine-inning game.
Away underdogs and home favorites generally float from around even to anywhere from -130 to +130.
Will there be a run scored in the first inning
This is more along the lines of betting the total, you are not necessarily cheering for one particular team, just so long as one of them crosses the plate before six outs are recorded in the game. Almost always the Yes choice is the underdog, with anywhere from a +110 payout to +200 depending on who is pitching, although it is not entirely odd to see both the Yes and No option with -110 odds.
Over two and a half weeks into the season and the Yes bet has continued to pay out. Through 202 games a run has been scored in the first inning 102 times and 100 times no runs were scored. Even if the No bet was slightly ahead, the Yes bet would still be making money as it is often the underdog choice. Pitchers are usually ahead of hitters in the first month of the season and as the bats start to catch up through May and June, expect the Yes bet to continue to be a solid value.